The three national parks described in this report form a continuous uninhabited territory stretching from Jerusalem’s Old City walls to the area known as E1. Two of the parks have been declared national parks and one of them is in the process of being designated as one. The most important of these is the Jerusalem Walls National Park, which includes the Old City walls, the areas immediately outside the walls, and the City of David archeological site, spreading over 1,110 dunams (1.11 km2 or 274 acres). The Tzurim Valley (Emek Tzurim) National Park is nestled between the Old City, Mount Scopus, and the Palestinian village of A-Tur, covering 165 dunams. The third national park planned for Jerusalem, the Mount Scopus Slopes, will be located on the eastern slopes of Mount Scopus (just below the Hebrew University) between the Palestinian villages of ‘Issawiya and A-Tur, and is slated to cover 730 dunams. Contrary to popular belief, the Old City of Jerusalem is not a national park, though it is a World Heritage Site that contains antiquities of immense importance.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Israel Antiquities Authority are responsible for determining which archeological remains should be protected by the INPA, how they should be presented to the public, and what the size of the protected area should be. Although ostensibly of a purely professional nature, in reality their decisions are often guided by political considerations, with far-reaching implications.
The declaration of an area as a national park entails assuming responsibility for the administration of the area, a fact that often leads to a struggle over the rights to the land. This report examines the ways in which antiquities (real or imagined) are used by the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority in order to assume responsibility for a given area, and thereby, de facto, to appropriate it.